Location: Eastern California
Entrance Fee: $30/vehicle or free with interagency pass
Must-see: El Capitan, Half Dome, Glacier Point, Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls, Mariposa Grove or Tuolumne Meadows
Once upon a time there was a magical place where the sun sparkled just right off of purple mountain peaks and the hunter green pine needles swayed gently in the crisp breeze.
It’s Yosemite, guys. I mean, seriously, this place is straight out of our little 90s children’s books. It’s got mountains. It’s got waterfalls. It’s got pine trees. It’s got bears. It’s a one-stop-shop of American Dream awesomeness.
There’s a lot to see, so let’s cover the basics. We had a full two days, which I recommend for those wanting to get a complete view of the park-of-all-trades.
A first stop for advice (mainly in regards to weather) at the Visitors Center is important, seeing as there really is an endless amount of things to do inside the park. Depending on the season Glacier Point is an absolute must. Make the lengthy trek on foot or drive to the lookout point for incredible views of all of the park’s most famous attractions. If your fear of heights or an unfortunate closure of icy roads prevents you from visiting this point of interest or you just prefer something a little flatter, take the Valley Loop Trail. It follows the road, so hop on a shuttle and ride back to the VC if you get tired. Winding through Giant Sequioa forests and past raging rivers, you’ll end at the bottom of the famous El Capitan (if you are a Mac owner, you’ll recognize this one). Lay down at its base for the best view and watch climbers test their limits on the rock’s almost-vertical face.
For a brisker hike and great views of Half Dome, a dome-shaped rock formation championed as a #goals locale for climbers, try the Yosemite Falls Trail. Pack a lunch and trek up to either the Lower or Upper Falls. We only made it to the top of the Lower Falls, but this was a great stop. Also, as you might assume, you can get a great view of the power of the many falls within the park.
To complete your visit, you must take a half day to visit one of the Giant Sequoia groves. Unfortunately for those of you visiting this year, the park’s more popular stop, Mariposa Grove, is closed for maintenance. However, Tuolumne Meadows Grove is just as impressive. Give a tree a hug and check out those pinecones.
We camped at Hodgdon Meadow, which for a $26 campsite inside of the park was fantastic. Though it seems a bit far from the main attractions, the drive from the Visitor’s Center to the campsite is fantastic and loaded with epic views of the park’s waterfalls. (Note: Signs everywhere warn of bears. Luckily this campsite comes with a bear-proof food locker, which apparently worked for us. We didn’t see a single bear.)
On a last note, keep in mind how packed this park gets during peak season. Even in May, we faced a bit of traffic within the park. Patience, young grasshoppers. It’s totally worth it.
As always, comment with questions.
Bye, Bye, Bye,